CMN students help children readJul 1st, 2013 | By tcj | Category: 25-2: Tribal and Behavioral Health, Tribal College News
At the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI), teacher education students recently undertook an ambitious literacy project for young children. Dr. Candy Waukau-Villagomez, an early childhood/elementary education instructor at CMN, reflected on her craft and the project: “I had to think about how to promote and improve literacy with our pre-service teachers on the Menominee Indian Reservation…We retold Menominee social stories and put them in picture storybook form, but infused both Menominee language and English Dolch words to create culturally enriched curriculum for emergent readers.”
In addition, students were introduced to collage as a way to illustrate their picture books—collage being a technique much like fabric appliqué, which is a variety of traditional woodland design and regalia. Waukau-Villagomez notes that a community’s stories have the ability to reflect actual values and experiences that resonate emotionally for children. This is critical for Native American youth in particular, as their experiences are often marginalized or under-represented in children’s literature.
The project is part of Sacred Little Ones, an educational initiative funded by the American Indian College Fund. CMN’s project, also known as “We Will Make a Path for Our Children,” has enabled the college to develop an early childhood instruction model to further enable disadvantaged, low-income students to gain the academic skills, motivation, support, and confidence necessary to succeed in elementary education. CMN, in partnership with Sacred Little Ones, has endeavored to infuse literacy and American Indian cultural components into the existing curriculum used at Menominee Nation Head Start, Menominee Indian School District, and the Menominee Tribal School.